By Vita Forest
This morning I walked down to my classroom after a staff meeting to hear my class engaged in vocal warfare. Believe it or not, my Year 1s and Year 2s were screaming each other down with “Donald Trump!” to which some of them were adding “Sux!”
A). Where do these children pick up this language? and
B). We were going to have to start the day by discussing the results of the U.S. election.
I got them all to quieten down and take some deep breaths before entering the classroom. They were not allowed to enter until they calmed down (this meant one boy crashed into the door frame and needed an ice pack on his head…)
They took their places on the floor and we began our discussion. There was a mixture of fear, anger, excitement and confusion. Some of them had heard that a war is going to start. Some of them had heard that Trump calls girls and people from other countries mean names. Some of them had heard he is going to build a wall near Mexico to keep the poor people out. Some of them had heard that he lies. Some of them heard it is going to hurt Australia.
I took a deep breath and launched into it.
At school, and in life, should we be screaming into each others’ faces? (An issue we have quite often during soccer games).
At school, and in life, should we be calling each other names?
At school, and in life, should we try to include or exclude others? How does it feel when we are excluded? We did a show of hands for who had been born overseas or who had parents or grandparents who had been born overseas (everyone’s hands went up).
We talked about how lots of people in the U.S. and in the world were very surprised about the election results and some people were very happy and some people were very upset. We talked about how to be a good winner and a good loser (as we do for any game we play). We talked about how sometimes things happen that we don’t like and whether it is a good idea to panic straight away.
Then when everyone was more or less friends again, I called the roll and we started the day.
At school we are trying to teach children to get on with each other, to treat people with respect, to be kind, to be inclusive, to solve their issues with words not their fists.
No wonder they felt confused.